Breathing Life Into Characters

Saturday, December 3, 2022

1 p.m. – 5 p.m. CST

online through the Loft

Creating a character who seems real is one of the most fascinating and challenging aspects of fiction writing. How does a writer depict fictional people who seem to come alive? In four intensive hours of writing exercises, readings, and discussion, we’ll explore that question. We will practice the art of imagining human beings. In this class, writers will work on character development: imagining the details of a character’s body, past, living room, bad habits.

In focused writing exercises, we’ll figure out details of where our characters live and work, their routines, the things they hide. Writers will practice the imaginative art of embodying character. We’ll discuss both common mistakes and the more subtle aspects of characterization. Discussion will cover the myriad unseen ways character work contributes to story and how to decide which details to include. Although this is a fiction class, all genres and levels are welcome; be prepared to write! Come work hard and have fun in an atmosphere of artistic camaraderie. Writers should come with a character or two in mind whom they would like to develop. A few short readings will be emailed shortly before the start of class. Please read what you can, print out or have onscreen, and have on hand to refer to during our class time.

Descriptive Language

Saturday, December 10, 2022

9 a.m. – 1 p.m. CST

online through the Loft

Descriptive language is a writer’s most powerful tool for creating what John Gardner called the best fiction—a vivid and continuous dream. Readings and writing exercises will focus on the importance of specificity, how to deftly work with adverbs and adjectives, describing with all five senses, and how to effectively communicate emotion. We will experiment with making the strange familiar and the familiar strange. We will read and discuss excerpts from the work of writers such as Jesmyn Ward, Lucia Berlin, Isaac Babel, Arundhati Roy, David Mitchell, and Chekhov.

Come prepared to write! Both writers of fiction and nonfiction will leave with a stronger sense of what constitutes excellent writing and how they might achieve it themselves.